When the game begins, read:
"War. War never changes.
The Romans waged war to gather slaves and wealth. Spain built an empire from its lust for gold and territory. Hitler shaped a battered Germany into an economic superpower. But war never changes.
In the 21st century, war was still waged over the resources that could be acquired. Only this time, the spoils of war were also its weapon: Petroleum and Uranium. For these resources, China would invade Alaska, the US would annex Canada, and the European Commonwealth would dissolve into quarreling, bickering nation-states, bent on controlling the last remaining resources on Earth.
In 2077, the storm of war had come again. In two brief hours, most of the planet was reduced to cinders. And from the ashes of nuclear devastation, a new civilization would struggle to arise.
A few were able to reach the safety of the large underground Vaults. Your family was apart of that group that entered Vault Thirteen. Imprisoned safety behind the large Vault door, under a mountain of stone, a generation has lived without knowledge of the outside world.
Life in the Vaults is about to change.
We start our day like any other day in Vault Thirteen. Everyone is glued to their Radiation King television set watching the regulated broadcasting of shows and commercials from 2077. As with all broadcasts, this one started with an advertisement for the Vaults made by Vault-Tec. This one featured the Vault-Tec cartoon mascot, Vault Boy, watering plants and waving at the camera as the vault door closes, followed by the quote, 'Prepare for the Future. Secure your place in the Vaults'.
Next, a Galaxy News Network program starts with the headline 'Our dedicated boys keep peace in newly annexed Canada'. Two American soldiers dressed in power armor execute a Canadian insurgent and wave to the camera. The screen cuts to a power armored soldier waving an American flag with 13 stars as "Buy War Bonds" scrolls underneath him.
The next advertisement is for a Chryslus Corvega, a car. Some motorized vehicle everyone owned in the Pre-War world. That quickly ends and a Mister Handy advertisement plays. Mister Handy is a robot with many hands for multitasking. He was made as a butler of sorts to help housewives as the men were away at work. The ad shows Mister Handy cleaning dishes, opening the fridge and preparing a lunch as the kids run down stairs and grab it.
The television shuts down and over the PA you hear 'that will be it for our regularated television schedule'. A vault security guard forcifully opens your door and escorts you to the Overseer's office. The Overseer is the leader of the vault who has been given the task of following the protocol which varies from vault to vault.
You see that you've been brought to a room with a few other colleages. The Overseer walks in. He begins to speak to you.
A'ha. You're here, good.
We've got a problem. A big one. The controller chip in our water purification system has given up the ghost. Can't make a new one and the process is too complicated for a work around system. Simply put, we're running out of drinking water. No water, no vault.
This is crucial to our survival. And frankly, I...I think you're the only hope we have. You'll need to find us another controller chip. We estimate we have four to five months before the vault runs out of water. We need that chip. I've marked all of your maps with a location of another vault. Not a bad place to start I think.
Look, just be safe. OK?
With little preparation, you have been wisked out of your home with limited supplies. You find yourself in a dark cave. The only light comes from behind a dusty wooden door covering from the end of the cave.
As you step further into the cave, you see a skeleton dressed in the vault clothing laying on the ground."
If a player has a Perception of 8, also read:
"You manage to hear some kind of chirping from deep within the cave."
If the players examine the dead body, read:
"That's Ed. Ed's dead. Ed used to live in the Vault. He was probably the first person sent out to go find a water chip by the Overseer. He also probably wasn't a very good fighter since he didn't get too far."
If the players search the dead body, read:
"On Ed is a knife, a bottle of Dirty Water and two Armor Piercing 10mm magazines. Each magazine contains 12 bullets. You notice that the backpack Ed was using has been eaten through."
Feat: If a player questions why Ed had bullets but not a gun, they gain 2 to Investigation.
The player can do an Investigation 25 check on Ed to see if they can notice where his gun may be. If they succeed, read:
"The gun does not appear to be on him or next to him."
If the players roll over Ed, they find a Weathered 10mm Pistol in 20% condition.
As the players go farther into the cave, have five Radroaches pop up and attack them.
If the players examine the pile of animal bones at the cave, read:
"You think these might be Horned Kangaroo bones, but you cannot be sure. They are too weathered to make a final determination."